Review: Splatoon (Nintendo Wii U)

Splatoon: Official GBAtemp Review

Nintendo Wii U 3,944 views 2 likes 14 comments
Reviewed by Austin Trujillo, posted Jun 7, 2015, last updated Jun 7, 2015
Jun 7, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): May 29, 2015
  • Release Date (EU): May 29, 2015
  • Release Date (JP): May 28, 2015
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Genres: Shooter
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone
  • PEGI Rating: Three years and older
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
I hope you're ready to get down and dirty everyone, it's time to take a look at Nintendo's latest multiplayer hit, Splatoon! Let's get messy!
Austin Trujillo


Squids In

Splatoon has been a bit of an oddball title for me since it released. I wanted to put out my opinion the day it came out, but decided to wait a week to see what forms of free content could be added to the game since its initial release. And I have to say, I think waiting that week actually made some changes to the way I viewed the game. But let’s move on to the actual meat of this review, and talk about gameplay first.To start off, the character customization that is offered is a very nice system. Clothing options are offered for your boy or girl squidling, which not only allows you to personalize the way they look, but also adds various bonuses to their abilities. 

For example, my squidling can be wearing a pair of high-tops that increase her running speed, a hat that allows her to store a little extra ink in her reserves, and a shirt, that allows me to hold onto a little extra ink if I happen to die. There are hundreds of clothing combos you can use to both personalize and power up your squidling. There are four stores in the main plaza that offer hats, shirts, shoes and weapons for you to purchase with cash you earn playing the game.


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Lots of customization and a very pretty environment!


Speaking of the plaza, it’s a very nice little hub that allows you to easily walk up to other miiverse squidlings, and check out what they are wearing and what their stats are. You can even order something that a miiverse squid may be wearing, by traveling to a little back alley and asking the black market dealer back there to get you what they are wearing!

The plaza has a very simple map layout on the gamepad, which you can use to tap on a location to easily pop into a store, or hit the multiplayer lobby.  You can also access the single player via a character near the multiplayer lobby, or you can interact with various NPC’s around you.

Now, about that multiplayer. Splatoon is a game about covering as much territory with your teams color as possible, working together using guns, paint rollers, grenades, and so much more to make the biggest mess of color possible. Gameplay is fast, versatile, and overall incredibly entertaining.  

Your character has the ability to transform into a small squid by holding the shoulder button, which allows you to swim through your teams designated ink color at a faster pace, allowing you to quickly push forward with your teammates to cover more unmarked territory, or paint over the enemies color. Keep in mind though, taking a single step into the enemy color will slow you to a halt and make you become incredibly sluggish to maneuver, leaving you wide open to be taken out by the enemy team.


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Very pretty and very messy paint!


The mechanic of painting territory is actually quite versatile when you break it down. Painting in straight lines will allow your teammates to quickly follow behind you in squid form, if you all want to make a fast push to the center to start covering as much ground as possible near the harder to hold areas, and give yourself an early advantage.

Or, you can play the long term game, and fill in all the areas around your side of the map, making it a bit more difficult for the enemy to push towards you, and allowing you to make quick getaways, or strategic pops in and out of the ink to blast enemies. Ink trails don’t even have to apply to just the ground. Spraying the walls around you will allow you to travel to higher ground, or make swifter (and much cooler) getaways from the enemy. The amount of mobility you have in Splatoon is delightful, and adds so much strategy to how you can play a match.

The only issue is, you’re going to have to think these things out and make decisions quickly. Matches only last for 3 minutes, and they can get hectic right off the bat. Not only will the enemy (and yourself) have various weapons at their disposal, but ranking up your paint meter by covering ground will allow you to use special abilities as the meter fills up.

Specials like Ink Bazooka’s, Air Strikes that cover massive ground, and the ability to transform into a fast moving Kraken, are all game changers in the constant action of Splatoon. I couldn’t tell you how competitive the experience is, especially when the whole match can come down to the last ink strike called into a location.


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Variety and more in store


And oh boy, the soundtrack. I adore Splatoons music to no end. It’s fast, it’s pumped up, and it adds to the overall fun of the maps.

Now, moving on to how the game controls, Splatoon is played using the Wii-U gamepad to control everything on screen, while utilizing the map on the touchscreen to monitor the map. Monitoring the map is imperative to your team’s success, as it is updated second by second on which color is where on the map, where your teammates are, and how close you are to winning, or losing the match.

The touchpad of the map can also be used to jump to a teammate’s location from your spawn point, which is a fantastic way of keeping the pressure on the enemy if your teammate is in their territory. Keep in mind though, they can do the same thing to you, so be sure to watch out for people near your key zones!

Splatoon can be played with gyro aiming, or with regular dual stick options. Personally, I found the gyro aiming ABYSMAL, and turned it off as soon as the in game tutorial was finished.

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Multiple options available to you


Now, I’ve spoken a lot about the way Splatoon is played, but haven’t really discussed what is offered for you to play. This is where things start to get a little more upsetting.

When Splatoon launched on May 29th, it shipped with a Single Player mode that offers some simple missions and boss fights that kind of give you a means of learning the game and practicing some strategies. The other offering was one single multiplayer mode. That multiplayer mode, simply titled regular battle, is the mode that focuses on 4v4 battles on a single map, battling it out to be the team with more of the map covered.

Not to mention, these maps are only offered in selections of two playable maps, every FOUR hours. Quite frankly, I have no idea why this system exists. Nearly all existing multiplayer games today, offer a constant rotation of all of the games maps, typically with a voting system in place between a set number of maps. The fact that the content is limited so stringently, and on a set time basis, is quite upsetting.

Also, Splatoon shipped with only FIVE maps total for the entire game. And this is where we start to see the scarily repetitive aspect of the game come into place.

Now that being said, as of this review’s writing, Splatoon has offered a new map, added ranked battle, added new weapons, and added a new game mode, within the first week.


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If only there was more...



Ranked battle works relatively well, and is actually where the new game mode is played, which is a King of The Hill gametype that focuses on controlling a set point on the map with your team’s respective color of paint. This gametype is a great deal of fun, and is extremely competitive.

The big issue here though, is the incompleteness that game seems to have. The fact that this free content wasn’t already included out of the box, seems a little silly. It’s nice that the game will continue to see free content throughout its future, but the fact that players have to wait just to have more reasons to play, is a little off-putting.

Other aspects of the game such as weapons and map variety are relatively well done. There are over 20 weapons ranging from guns, to giant paint rollers, and each weapon has its own special ability and grenade/radar equipment. The weapons themselves are a little disappointing though, with a lot of them just being slightly tweaked version of a gun with the same name, with the only tweaks being different damage or firing rate.

And as stated before, there are now six maps to choose from, with the maps being offered in sets of two, which are playable for four hours until the next rotation is out. Nintendo has at least promised more weapons and maps, as well as game modes in the future, which I eagerly look forward to.

The lobby system for multiplayer could also use some fine tuning. When trying to join a friends game, it will allow you to "join" their game, which will then have you waiting until a free spot actually opens up for whatever game they are currently in, to allow you to join them. You cannot form a party and find a match together, you have to wait until a free spot opens up for you to be able to join a current game one of you is in. At least they give you a silly little mini game to play while you're waiting I suppose. 

Also, the new Ranked mode that was recently added, doesn't even allow you to play with friends. Which means if you planned on playing the new free gametype with a pal, you are completely out of luck. 


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Amiibo in style!


Not to mention, if you happen to need to leave a match for whatever reason, good freakin luck. Once you are in a lobby, you can't even back out of it. You have to wait until the game is over for you to actually leave it, which is even more frustrating if you want to switch weapons, because you can't even change weapons in the lobby screen. You have to physically leave the game after the current match ends, back out, change your weapon, and then go back into the game. The lobby system is currently just a mess, and it's certainly one of my biggest gripes about the game.

The other aspect of Splatoon everyone may not get to experience, is the amiibo aspect. I have the Splatoon 3-pack, and using the amiibo allows you to take on challenges such as time trials and other objectives. Completing these, give you exclusive cosmetic items for your squidling. The challenges actually add about five hours of content to the game, which is kind of upsetting for anyone that wasn't able to get a hold of the amiibo. The fact that the challenges are limited strictly to the amiibo just feels like another aspect of cutting game content from the full package. 

I’ll be frank, Splatoon is addicting. It’s not often that I play a game with guns, and actually don’t focus my attention on getting as many kills as possible. Instead, my focus is on the environment around me, and all the ways I can absolutely trash it with the tools at my disposal. It's actually quite hard for me to really complain about the gameplay, other than the fact that it's so short. My biggest complaints stem from the fact that I don't have MORE of Splatoon to play, (and the fact that the lobby system is awful.)

+ Fast and competitive gameplay
+ Great Soundtrack
+ Multiple options of play
- Abysmal lobby system
- Lack of content
8 Presentation
Splatoon is a wonderful new IP from Nintendo, and is a great presentation of kid friendly, competitive, and overall entertaining 3rd person shooting.
9 Gameplay
The gameplay of Splatoon shines the brightest. It's fast, it's addicting, it's competitive, it's a wonderful experience that I would love to play more and more of.
6 Lasting Appeal
This is where Splatoon takes the big hit. A severe lack of maps and game types, all contribute to this low score. Perhaps more free content will remedy this lasting appeal, but as it stands now, there just isn't enough content to justify a higher score.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Splatoon is an example of a game that actually suffers from the fact that it doesnt have enough to offer. Quite frankly, I adore the game, and the only frustration I get aside from bad lobbies, is the fact that I don't have MORE of it to play! Splatoon was incredibly fun to play, but overall felt like an incomplete game from its launch date. I would love to see Nintendo remedy the situation more with future content, and I won't discourage anyone from buying it either. Maybe wait until the game has some more to offer, but don't miss out on it. I still think it's a really fun game overall.
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